Three key questions: Should All Blacks recall Savea?

Julian Savea of the All Blacks performs the haka during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales. Photo / Getty Images.
Julian Savea of the All Blacks performs the haka during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales. Photo / Getty Images.

Herald rugby writers Wynne Gray, Patrick McKendry and Gregor Paul answer three key questions following last night's test between the All Blacks and Wales.

1. Apart from Barrett - in frame as Cruden's replacement - who of NZ's reserves deserve a start in Dunedin?

Patrick McKendry: Seta Tamanivalu is probably the one pushing hardest. He impressed when coming on for Malakai Fekitoa as a blood bin replacement after the first minute and then for the entire second half. Steve Hansen might want to give his new midfield of Fekitoa and Ryan Crotty another go, though.

Gregor Paul: It's probably not so much about who deserves to start, more who the selectors feel they would like to see in action. Elliot Dixon may come into their thinking - they know what Jerome Kaino can do and they might like to give Dixon a chance on his home ground. Liam Squire may come onto the bench, too.

Wynne Gray: Charlie Faumuina should start at tighthead and maybe Savea on the open. Haven't heard anything about Ngatai's recovery from concussion but if he is fit I would like to see him in midfield.

2. Do you bring back Julian Savea?

PM: Yes. He will be important if Cruden is ruled out. If Barrett starts at No10, the All Blacks need a capable outside back on the bench - that's where Israel Dagg comes in. Ben Smith should move back to fullback, with Savea in the No11 jersey. Ardie Savea is fulfilling his impact role nicely off the bench - he should keep doing that.

GP: If he's in the right head space then yes. Best to get him back on the horse sooner rather than later and it may be that he comes in for Waisake Naholo rather than Israel Dagg. Would be unfair on Dagg to sit him down after the way he played.

WG: No and from the sound of Steve Hansen's comments this week, it won't happen until the Rugby Championship. I would switch positions for Ben Smith and Dagg to increase the shape and organisation from the back.

3. What improvements must NZ make?

PM: A faster, more accurate start would be welcome after scratchy opening halves in Auckland and Wellington. At the Cake Tin it was all a bit frantic until they found their rhythm early in the second half. I'd like them to be a bit more accurate on defence, too. It was disappointing to see Wales score two tries at the end.

GP: It's another case of cranking the handle generally rather than specifically. They will want to be more accurate and cohesive for longer. Get the pressure on Wales earlier in the game and find some flow before the second half.

WG: The All Blacks have to tone down the frantic and deliver more control. They also have to deliver a better tactic for recycling ball as well as committing Wales around the contact areas.

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